Who doesn't love a fair? There is something about the lure of a bustling midway with its unique sights, sounds, and smells. Nothing can match the thrill of the stomach-churning rides or taking a chance at the midway games. But, the bottom line? It's all about the food. It's surely where gastrointestinal nightmares are born, but who can resist the cotton candy, ice cream, and things fried that you never thought of frying?
Florida residents are fortunate to have 50 chances each year to take advantage of one of the best entertainment values around — county fairs — 51 if you count the Florida State Fair. County fairs can be found throughout Florida — from the rolling hills of the Panhandle to the sandy shores of South Florida — and they highlight the communities where they are located... making each one different. Besides the midway, livestock competitions and exhibits, agricultural exhibits, arts and crafts and live entertainment provide an exciting day for the entire family.
While every county fair is unique, there are a few standouts. The Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition ranks as one of the largest and most successful fairs in the nation and attracts more than half-million visitors every year. For over 60 years, the all-youth Southeastern Youth Fair in Ocala is where young people have showcased their 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) skills; but, one of the most popular components of that fair has to be the two-day Florida High School Rodeo, where young cowboys and cowgirls show off their roping and riding skills.
The Florida Strawberry Festival provides outstanding exhibits, low-cost nationally acclaimed entertainment... and, of course, plenty of those tasty red strawberries.
While fairs offer good entertainment value, there are a few cost-cutting measures available to save even more:
- Take advantage of advance ticket sales, often available online and at special ticket offices.
- Save a bundle on packages that include admission, ride wristbands and drink coupons. These are often only available in advance.
- Look for special offers and coupons available on social media, in newspapers or at restaurants.
- Take advantage of special days. Often fairs offer special admission discounts to children, seniors and special interest groups on certain days. Some days may even be set aside as free admission days for kids.
- Park at an off-site lot and ride free shuttles.
- Pack a picnic lunch or carry a few healthy snacks and a bottle of water.
Florida's fairs are held in the fall, winter and early spring. Mostly dry conditions and mild temperatures during those months allow Floridians a chance to enjoy outdoor events while giving carnival workers year-round employment.
Find a Fair
Fair dates and locations are listed below:
Walton County Fair (Oct 8-13) - DeFuniak Springs
Northeast Florida Fair (Oct 11-21) - Callahan
Greater Hillsborough County Fair (Oct 18-21 and Oct 25-28) - Brandon
Pensacola Interstate Fair (Oct 18-28) - Pensacola
Alachua County Fair (Oct 19-27) Gainesville
Columbia County Fair (Oct 27 - Nov 4) - Lake City
Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair (Oct 31-Nov 11) - Jacksonville
Manatee County Fair (Jan 17-27) - Palmetto
South Florida Fair (Jan 18- Feb 3) - West Palm Beach
Polk County Youth Fair (TBA) - Bartow
Charlotte County Fair (Feb 1- 10) - Port Charlotte
Florida State Fair (Feb 7-18) - Tampa
Highlands County Fair (Feb 8-16) - Sebring
Hendry County Fair and Livestock Show (TBA) - Clewiston
Martin County Fair (Feb 8-16) - Stuart
Osceola County Fair (Feb 8-17) - Kissimmee
Hardee County Fair (Feb 16-23) - Wauchula
Pasco County Fair (Feb 18-24) - Dade City
Southeastern Youth Fair (Feb 15-23) - Ocala
Central Florida Fair (TBA) - Orlando
Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair (Feb 28- March 10) - North Fort Myers
Saint Lucie County Fair (TBA) - Fort Pierce
Chalo Nitka Festival, Glades County Youth Livestock Show and Frontier Days Rodeo (Feb 29- March 3) - Moore Haven
Florida Strawberry Festival (Fab 28- March 10) - Plant City
Alachua County Youth Fair (TBA) - Gainesville
Sumter County Fair (Mar 1-9) - Bushnell
Okeechobee County Fair (TBA) - Okeechobee
Bradford County Fair (Mar 5-10) - Starke
Suwannee River Fair (TBA) - Fanning Springs
Firefighters' Indian River County Fair (March 8-17) - Vero Beach
Collier County Fair (Mar 14-24) - Naples
Sarasota County Fair(TBA) - Sarasota
Putnam County Agricultural Fair (Mar 22-30) - East Palatka
Suwannee County Fair (TBA) - Live Oak
Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition (Mar14- Apr 7 open daily except March 18 &19, April 1 & 2) - Miami
Citrus County Fair (Mar 25- 31) - Inverness
Levy County Fair (TBA) - Williston
Santa Rosa County Fair (Mar 28 - Apr 6) - Milton
Clay County Agricultural Fair (Apr 4-13) - Green Cove Springs
Flagler County Fair (TBA) - Bunnell
Lake County Fair (Apr 4-13) - Eustis
Hernando County Fair (Apr 12-20) - Brooksville
Brevard County Fair (TBA) -Melbourne